What am I doing? Sewing!
Since I moved to North Carolina in July, I’ve changed my mind a lot about what I want to do in the future, how to make the best of the time I’ll be living with my family, and also about how to not live with my family anymore. For awhile I thought I would complete my half-finished graduate degree. Then I thought, you know, actually I don’t want to be a librarian/information professional at all. Not even a little bit. Why don’t I study something else? And I might. I honestly might. Eventually. But then. Then I made some friends in the theatre community. Everything fell apart.
My first two years of high school were at a fine arts school, where I took music lessons and classes in art, writing and dance. There was so much to soak up and I wasn’t going to let any of it pass me by. I went to every performance that I could. The memories are still so very fond. This was my first awakening. Ultimately I made the decision to leave, but my choice was heavily influenced by my parents and pastors who thought that going to a regular school would keep me from turning out gay. Right. Brilliant plan. Since then, my love for the arts has remained constant and I have withered in times when my interaction with the arts world was minimal. Conversely, I flourish when I am surrounded by creative people, and creative work.
So we have this thing in North America where only some jobs are legitimate – the ones that you get a regular paycheck for doing. It is my belief that we are often kept in these jobs out of fear – how will we pay the bills, buy food, or obtain access to medical care? These are real concerns, and not ones that I take particularly lightly. But more often than not, the jobs that give you a regular paycheck require a lot in return. We are bound to them, even when they throttle our life force and squelch our creativity and turn us into complacent, compliant, submissive drones. We show up on time. We do our work. We go home. We do things at home to prepare for work (on unpaid time, of course). We can’t take trips because we have to work. We can’t visit with loved ones when they are sick because we have to work. We can’t pursue our passions because they take up too much time.
Well, I call bullshit. Being a corporate slave will never satisfy me. Of course I’m scared. I’m fucking scared of not being able to get proper health care, especially dental care because of a genetic condition I have. I do not want to rely on government aid, actually I’d rather have enough monetary surplus to be able to give to others in need. But I have to start somewhere, and I’ve grown weary of being afraid. In all the time that I’ve spent being afraid, I could have been doing something productive. Anything! Anything I wanted to! Little by little. But it took turning my entire life upside down and shaking things up until all the excess physical and emotional junk fell out.
So, late last year, I gave academia the finger. I have arranged my bedroom at my mother’s house for maximum creation space. I’m not letting lack of space, my tendency to be kinda (ok, really) messy, or my minimal tools hold me back from creating. Before the move, I was working with a dressmaker who very generously shared her knowledge with me, and took the time to help me learn to do things right. This is something I will never be able to repay her for. But what I can do is honor her generosity by putting into practice the things that she taught me. I love sewing. Even when I hate it, I still love it. When I’m working my part-time job at the shop, I’d rather be sewing. It’s a heck of a lot more profitable per hour than knitting is (though I love that, too) – and I now live in an area with quite a few small and large theatre companies that may offer opportunities for costume design. Whether or not that works out, I will still continue developing my skills and working toward bigger and better things. I’m coming to terms with the fact that this will take time. I work at a relatively slow pace, and that’s OK as long as I am doing something.
In the spirit of doing something, I’ve given myself a goal of one completed garment per week. Since I work 3-4 days a week at my “paycheck” job, there is absolutely no reason why this is not attainable. Whether it’s a boring skirt or an infinite scarf made of leftover material, I am making something. Actually, I’m currently ahead of schedule! There are ten finished garments hanging in my room presently, including the one that went together tonight. Due to various factors, I’ll probably be living at my mother’s for at least a full year. I’m not going to waste that time saying, “I’ll start sewing once I get my own place.” No. It starts now.
So what am I doing? The short answer is: sewing as often as possible, and thinking about sewing and researching sewing every spare moment I have. I’m also writing, resting and reading. And cutting myself LOTS of slack. Which, by the way, I highly recommend doing.